So the carefully wrapped gifts are all unwrapped, the returns of the unwanted gifts have started and we are looking forward to the New Year and reflecting back on the old.
What should we or could we have done differently this past year? Regrets? What should we leave in the past? Forgive and forget? And was it a year to remember?
In terms of world events it was an eventful year environmentally speaking. There were record breaking droughts and wildfires but in other areas record breaking flooding. The world was rocked by numerous earthquakes including the “big one” that caused the massive tsunami in Japan. Volcanoes all around the world were very active in 2011.
2011 also brought us the British Royal Wedding of Prince William and Princess Katherine AKA Kate Middleton. In addition this past year brought about the end of the U.S. space shuttle era.
For me 2011 was probably my most traveled year ever, including two of my most favorite trips, “Bucket List” trips, Kenya and Rarotonga/Aitutaki.
Reflecting back now gives us about a week to think of resolutions for 2012 besides the usual...
stop smoking, lose weight and save money. What about learning a foreign language, or taste a food from a different ethnic group or maybe complete one item on your bucket list? The New Year gives us a new chance or opportunity to improve on ourselves and the world around us.
U.S. Bureau of Transportation statistics reveal that Christmas Holiday travel is second only to that of Thanksgiving. And of both holidays the single reason for the increase in travel is to visit family and friends.
So during the major travel season let us think of ways to reduce the stress often associated with travel. First as any Boy Scout or Girl Scout knows we must “Be Prepared.” Pack tolerance, manners, smiles and laughter. Then leave home with an open mind, tolerance and flexibility.
While on your trip enjoy relaxation mixed with a bit of curiosity and exploration.
And when it is time to depart and return to your home leave with fulfillment and remember to express gratitude.
I want to take this opportunity to wish my readers a safe and happy holiday season.
The season is a buzz with holiday shoppers. The time is running out as people to rush from store to store or now days frantically search from website to website to find the perfect gift for that special someone. But what is the perfect gift?
Sure everyone has a list of material things they want or could use but is it the perfect gift? Material items become outdated, outgrown and generally wear out. For me I believe the perfect gift is the gift of experience. Opening a beautifully wrapped gift lasts but a minute, an experience lasts a lifetime.
I ask you do you remember what you got for Christmas two years ago? What about last year? If you received a gift of travel or an experience I am willing to bet you’d remember. I remember my gift from last year…a NASCAR Race Car Driving Experience. My in-laws remember an anniversary gift we gave them, a hot air balloon ride. And I am sure my girls remember their Christmas trips to Florida to snorkel with the manatee. Or the ski trip vacation to the mountains when there was hardly enough snow to ski.
But do either of them remember the Christmas they got ice skates under the tree? What about all of those plush fuzzy stuffed animals ? Or the year it was “I just have to have it!” (Bet they don’t even remember what the item was!)
Then there is my granddaughter, do you think she remembers all of the gifts she has received from me at Christmas? No, but she certainly remembers the geo-caching trip we went on where we encountered a snake and I ran away! Again it is the experience and the adventure that remains with us.
So for this Christmas consider giving the gift of experience and adventure. At the very least consider giving the gift of your time, time to create memories. As an added benefit it helps with the current Made in America campaign!
"You never know when you're making a memory!" --Rickie Lee Jones
The Cooks especially Rarotonga and Aitutaki are amazing, breathtaking. Having just returned from this island paradise I am sure I have been to heaven and back! If you never travel to the Cook Islands or New Zealand I am 99.9999 percent sure you will never meet a Cook Islander…they know they are in heaven so why should they leave!?!?
It is reported that the Cook Islands are the most beautiful islands in the world, with the emphasis on Aitutaki. I certainly agree.
These remote islands are located in the South Pacific and are only accessible from the United States by Air New Zealand one day a week; other arrivals come from Auckland and Sydney.
Rarotonga is the main island in the 15 island country and is home to the only international airport. Visitors never need to fear that they may go to the wrong gate at the airport … there is only one international and one domestic gate. And not to worry there are never two planes at the airport at the same time!
Rarotonga is home to about 10,000 persons and Aitutaki home to less than 2,000. The country’s entire population is about equivalent to my home town! There are no stop lights; one 21 mile road circles the island. Several roads go “up” into the center of the island but there is no way to get lost…just go down again!
The residents of Rarotonga and Aitutaki are friendly and helpful. They also are striving to maintain their unique culture and to share it with visitors to their islands.
A visit to the Cook Islands is a very special experience, a whole new world or possibly a step back in time. So if you are reading this please don’t tell everyone how special Rarotonga and Aitutaki are … I would hate for them to be ruined by the outside world!